Summer reading equals Hiaasen

Along with the warming sun and blooming plants my thoughts turn to summer reading. One of my favorite authors is Carl Hiaasen. Hiaasen is a native Floridian, and his love for Florida features strongly in his books. Hiaasen is an investigative journalist for the Miami Herald, and where he writes about property developers, shady politicians, and their lack of care for the environment.

His novels take on similar themes, although with humorous and sometimes violent effect. His novels feature broad characters, outlandish situations, and have a satiric bite. My favorite novel of Hiaasen’s (so far) is Stormy Weather, which takes place after a devastating hurricane roars through southern Florida, and some tourists change their plans to explore the devastation.

Lately, in addition to his novels, Hiaasen has been writing books for younger readers. Hoot, a book about students trying to save the habitat of burrowing owls from a dishonest developer, was a 2003 Newbery Medal Honor Book; an award given by the American Library Association. Hiaasen has written a second book for young readers called Flush. To me, summer reading brings to mind an escape to the lush beauty of Florida and the exciting novels of Carl Hiaasen.

–Liz Mason, Technical Services Librarian

BookTalk at BSC 2000-2007

BookTalk at BSC is the Bismarck State College Library annual book discussion series and made its debut in 2000.

For our “It’s a Mystery…” theme in 2000, we read and discussed three mystery novels.

  • The Nine Tailors: Changes Rung on an Old Theme in Two Short Touches and Two Full Peals by Dorothy L. Sayers
  • Skinwalkers by Tony Hillerman
  • Mr. White’s Confession by Robert Clark

In 2001, Ivan Doig’s Montana Trilogy was the focus of our reading and discussion:

  • English Creek
  • Dancing at the Rascal Fair
  • Ride with Me, Mariah Montana

For our Native American literature theme in 2002, we read and discussed three books by contemporary Native American authors:

  • House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday
  • The Antelope Wife by Louise Erdrich
  • Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie

“Great Books, Great Movies” was our theme for 2003:

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Deliverance by James Dickey
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

With the bicentennial commemoration of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, focusing on the expedition for BookTalk at BSC 2004 seemed like a natural fit.

  • The Journals of Lewis and Clark – Participants were invited to read as much or as little as they wanted of the version of the journals of their choice
  • A sampling of fiction and non-fiction books, including: Eclipse: a Novel of Lewis and Clark by Richard S. Wheeler; I Should Be Extremely Happy in Your Company: a Novel of Lewis and Clark by Brian Hall; Stone Heart: a Novel of Sacagawea by Diane Glancy, and Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West by Stephen Ambrose
  • The Prairie by James Fennimore Cooper

“Reading Dakota” was our theme for 2005 and we read books by notable North Dakota authors.

  • The Bones of Plenty by Lois Phillips Hudson
  • The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich
  • Justice by Larry Watson [Note: the author is a BSC alum]

For our “Classics Redux” theme in 2006, we read and discussed three contemporary novels that were inspired by classic works of literature.

  • Ahab’s Wife, or The Star-Gazer by Sena Jeter Naslund (inspired by Moby Dick by Herman Melville)
  • The Hours by Michael Cunningham (inspired by Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf)
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel (inspired by Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe)

“Behind the Mask” was our theme in 2007.  We read books that helped us explore the experience of being “other” (that is, being outside the dominant culture because of race, creed, color, sexual preference, physical disabilities, etc.), and how “otherness” can lead people to mask their authentic selves.

  • The Human Stain by Philip Roth
  • Hiding in the Open: a Holocaust Memoir by Sabina S. Zimering
  • Fires in the Dark by Louise Doughty